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The Best Leaders Are Also Great Teachers


By Suruj  Rambachan

In the Hindu tradition there is the term Guru which is used to describe a man of immense  spiritual learning and understanding and who is admired for his/her adherence to ten practice of the best human values. A Guru is one who is seen to have three particular qualities. Firstly, he/she is a (spiritually) learned person. Secondly, he/she is in his/her life an embodiment of that which he/she professes. Thirdly, he/she is able to impart (teach) to others that learning of which he/she is accomplished, since it is the role of a  Guru to help other to rise in their understanding of themselves, in their spirituality and its practice thereof. People follow a Guru because they are inspired by the life and teachings of the Guru both of which make a fundamental impact upon their own lives.

What makes a leader, if not the very qualities which a Guru possesses. A leader is a leader only if people are willing to follow him/her and to trust him/her. There is no leadership without followership. When we speak of integrity as a defining characteristic of a leader and a quality that engenders trust in the leader we are speaking about the ability of a leader to close the gap between what the leader says and what the leader does. This is no different from the Guru, who will only find followers if there is the quality of integrity.

A leader like a Guru, also wants to achieve change in attitude, behaviour and practice of employees and customers. This is best achieved if the leader has the ability to teach others new knowledge and new ways of doing things as well as to keep his/her promises. This is how integrity is manifested in the minds of followers. It is integrity which breeds trust in the leader and which trust excites action on the part of followers.

Teaching however is not enough. The leader must also become a mentor, an advisor to the employee. This requires an open door policy and a genuine interest in the development of the person. Other than this, the trust and confidence in the leader will falter. This is why a Guru is also described as a person who is compassionate. Leaders also, while being firm must also be compassionate. Compassion is not however a matter of allowing people to get away with breaking the rules or being unethical. Compassion in this case refers to a leader’s ability to be patient and understanding with the  functional development of the person and mentoring the person in terms of emotional equilibrium and ability to cope and develop excellent interpersonal and team behaviours.

So, if you wish to develop as a successful and highly inspirational leader think about the qualities of a Guru and become one in your life. Incidentally, you cannot be a Guru only at work.  It is a life value if you are to be successful.

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